ACT farmers and small businesses affected by bushfires will now be able to apply for low-interest loans to help in the recovery process, while cleanup assistance will be available for households.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Federal Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, announced yesterday (12 February) that the Federal Government would help pay for firefighting efforts to combat the Orroral Valley and Beard fires under Joint Disaster Recovery Agreement.
“The bushfires affecting the ACT have had ongoing impacts for the ACT community and we are committed to supporting the recovery effort,” Mr Littleproud said.
“This funding will help those affected get back on their feet sooner and assist in the clean-up effort.
“Activation of the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) also means the Australian Government will help cover some of the costs associated with firefighting response operations which were undertaken to protect the community.”
The jointly funded DRFA is an agreement between the Federal and Territory Governments where the Commonwealth provides financial assistance of up to 75 per cent for eligible expenditure on disaster relief and recovery costs.
Mr Barr thanked the Federal Government for their assistance, saying that the two governments had been working together for a number of weeks on the proposal, and official confirmation came through late on Tuesday night.
“The Orroral Valley Fire presented the biggest bushfire risk to the Territory since 2003 and it required a significant response from our emergency services agencies with the support of the Australian Defence Force,” Mr Barr said.
“This bushfire season impacted on the way of life for our city, particularly small businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector that have been doing it tough for a number of months with extended periods of smoke haze and bushfire threat.
“We welcome this announcement from the Commonwealth that eligible businesses can apply for financial support. We will continue to work with the Australian Government as we move into a recovery phase from the bushfires that have impacted our city and our region.”
The Orroral Valley Fire is one of the biggest ecological disasters in ACT history. About 80% of Namadgi National Park has been burnt.
Environment Minister Mick Gentleman has been tasked with leading the ACT Government response which will be focused on Park renewal and recovery. pic.twitter.com/uVQXrlSUra
— Andrew Barr MLA (@ABarrMLA) February 10, 2020
The Orroral Valley fire burnt 35 per cent of the Territory’s landmass and 80 per cent of the Namadgi National Park, blistering more than 86,000 hectares.
The Beard fire on 23 January burned down five outbuildings and facilities, and damaged 15 others around Pialligo, Canberra Airport and the Brindabella Business Park. Three cars were also destroyed.
The recycling centre in Underwood Street, Beard was one of the structures impacted by the fire which burnt car bodies and car parts, releasing dangerous levels of thick, black smoke.
Any business that has suffered significant financial loss as a direct result of this summer’s bushfire season should contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or Access Canberra for further information.
Information on disaster assistance can be found on the Australian Government’s disaster assist website www.disasterassist.gov.au.